The Readers' Voice was a series of author interviews that took place across the country to celebrate the reader, local libraries and outstanding Irish writing. Ireland's inaugural Laureate Anne Enright interviewed six writers in six different library related venues over the course of February, March, April and May. Regardless of geography, the series encouraged readers across the country to engage with the series, read the books and tune in online to watch the events in libraries across the country.
The events as listed below were broadcast live on Facebook and videos can be viewed on the Laureate facebook page at www.facebook.com/LaureateIrishFiction
|Christine Dwyer Hickey
||3:30pm, 16 February
||Thurles Library, Tipperary
||6:30pm, 23 February
||Ballymun Library, Co. Dublin
||8:30pm, 3 March
||glór, Ennis, Co Clare
||7:00pm, 20 April
||Ballymote Community Library, Co. Sligo
||7:00pm, 27 April
||Wexford Town Library, Co. Wexford
||7:00pm, 4 May
||Cavan Town Library, Co. Cavan
Speaking about the series, Laureate for Irish Fiction Anne Enright said, “The Irish readership is the most loyal - and the most silent - in the English-speaking world. The Readers’ Voice is a celebration of book clubs and libraries, a small way of giving back to the audience that has sustained the Irish tradition over the last many decades.
There is no great statement here about the state of Irish literature. This is a personal selection of six books, chosen with the readers in mind. A little less plot driven than the usual book club choices, perhaps, these novels focus, for the most part, on individual lives: on the choices we make, our losses and reclamations. There are unforgettable characters created on these pages: Paula Spencer in The Woman Who Walked into Doors, Farley Grainger in The Cold Eye of Heaven, Catherine McKenna in Grace Notes, Melody Shee in All We Shall Know, and the American blow-in, Alice, in When Light is Like Water. I was surprised, myself, by the number of female lives and female voices in this cross section of contemporary Irish fiction, which were written by both women and men. I also love first person narrators - they get so close to the reader’s ear. Through these imperfect, unsettling, characters we get a true glimpse of Ireland as it changes - and this change becomes the overt subject in the social satire of The Devil I Know.”
Novel: The Cold Eye of Heaven
Farley wakes in the middle of the night to find himself paralyzed on the bathroom floor. His mind begins to move backwards, taking us into the past with the dark wit of a true Dubliner. For this is also Dublin’s story, the city Farley has seen through poverty and prosperity, boom and bust - each the other’s constant companion during his seventy-five years.
Christine Dwyer Hickey has published seven novels, one short story collection and a full length play. The Cold Eye of Heaven won the Irish Novel of the Year 2012 and was nominated for the International IMPAC award. Tatty was nominated for The Orange Prize and was one of the 50 Irish Novels of the Decade. Last Train from Liguria was nominated for the Prix L’Européen de Littérature. Her short stories have been published in anthologies and magazines worldwide and have won several awards. Her first play Snow Angels premiered at the Project Arts Centre in March 2014 to critical acclaim. Her latest novel, The Lives of Women was published in April 2015. She is an elected member of the Irish Academy of Letters and Aosdána.
Novel: Grace Notes
The award-winning Grace Notes is a compact and altogether masterful portrait of a woman composer and the complex interplay between her life and her art. With superb artistry and startling intimacy, it brings us into the life of Catherine McKenna — estranged daughter, vexed lover, new mother, and musician making her mark in a male-dominated field. It is a book that the Virginia Woolf of A Room of One's Own would instantly understand.
Bernard MacLaverty was born in Belfast but now lives in Glasgow. He has published five collections of short stories and four novels. A fifth novel,’Midwinter Break’ is to be published later this year. He has written versions of his fiction for other media - radio plays, television plays, screenplays and libretti. He wrote and directed a short film ‘Bye-Child’ which won a BAFTA Scotland Award for Best First Director and a BAFTA nomination for Best Short Film. He is a member of Aosdána.
Novel: All We Shall Know
Melody Shee is alone and in trouble. Her husband doesn't take her news too well. She doesn't want to tell her father yet because he’s a good man and this could break him. She’s trying to stay in the moment, but the future is looming – larger by the day – while the past won’t let her go. What she did to Breedie Flynn all those years ago still haunts her.
It’s a good thing that she meets Mary Crothery when she does. Mary is a young Traveller woman, and she knows more about Melody than she lets on. She might just save Melody’s life.
Donal Ryan is the author of three number one bestselling novels and a short story collection. He has won three Irish Book Awards, the EU Prize for Literature and the Guardian First Book Award. His debut novel, The Spinning Heart, was shortlisted for the Impac Dublin Literary Award and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2013 and was recently voted Irish Book of the Decade. His work has been translated into over a dozen languages and is on the Leaving Certificate prescribed and comparative lists. Donal holds a fellowship in creative writing at the University of Limerick.
Novel: The Devil I know
Set against the backdrop of a brewing international debt crisis. Told by Tristram, in the form of a mysterious testimony, The Devil I Know recounts his return home after a self-imposed exile only to find himself trapped as a middle man played on both sides - by a grotesque builder he's known since childhood on the one hand, and a shadowy businessman he's never met on the other. Caught between them, as an overblown property development begins in his home town of Howth, it follows Tristram's dawning realisation that all is not well.
Claire Kilroy is the author of four novels, All Summer (Faber & Faber, 2003), Tenderwire (Faber & Faber, 2006), All Names Have Been Changed (Faber & Faber, 2009), and The Devil I Know (Faber & Faber, 2012), which was described by The Guardian as “a satiric danse macabre of brio and linguistic virtuosity,” and by the New York Times as “savagely comic... and great fun.” Claire has been shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year three times, and was awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in 2004. She lives in Dublin.
“This young Irish writer packs a stunning worldly wisdom into her beautiful prose.” Barbara Kingsolver, author of Flight Behaviour.
Novel: The Woman Who Walked Into Doors
Paula Spencer is a thirty-nine-year-old working-class woman struggling to reclaim her dignity after marriage to an abusive husband and a worsening drinking problem. Paula recalls her contented childhood, the audacity she learned as a teenager, the exhilaration of her romance with Charlo, and the marriage to him that left her feeling powerless.
Roddy Doyle is the author of eleven novels, two collections of stories, two books of dialogues and Rory & Ita, a memoir of his parents. He has written seven books for children and has contributed to a variety of publications including The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Metro Eireann and several anthologies. He won the Booker Prize in 1993, for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha. Roddy has written for the stage and his plays include Brownbread and Guess Who’s Coming For The Dinner. He co-adapted with Joe O’Byrne his novel The Woman who Walked into Doors and he has written the stage adaptation for The Commitments. He also wrote the screenplays for The Snapper, The Van, Family, When Brendan Met Trudy and he co-wrote the screenplay for The Commitments.
Novel: When Light Is Like Water
When Light is Like Water is at once a gripping story of passion and ambivalence and a profound meditation on the things that matter most: the definition of love, the value of family and the meaning of home.
Molly McCloskey was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Oregon, but from 1989 to 2013, she made her home in Ireland – first on the west coast, and then in Dublin. She is the author of two collections of short stories and a novel, as well as the acclaimed memoir, Circles Around the Sun, which concerns her brother’s descent into schizophrenia. Her latest novel is published by Penguin Ireland as When Light is Like Water, and in the US by Scribner under the title, Straying.
Molly is a regular contributor to the Irish Times, and has taught writing at universities in Ireland and the US, including Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, and George Washington University in Washington, DC, where she now lives. She has also worked in the field of international aid in the UN’s Kenya-based Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for Somalia.